In a recent article, The Hollywood Reporter pointed out how during a time when the music industry is struggling to sell music, National Public Radio (NPR) has become its secret tool in boosting sales. With an audience of 34 million (according to Arbiton) and a devoted online following, NPR has helped a majority of indie and alternative acts cross over into larger audiences. And results are showing, seeing as how NPR staple acts like Arcade Fire and Florence + The Machine have gone from select audiences to performing at major award shows and seeing album sales increase. This sudden boost in success also makes sense in that 59% of NPR’s listeners are self-proclaimed “active music fans,” while 83% prefer “alternative music.” Research also finds that 68% of their listeners are more likely to attend concerts, showing dedication from fans willing to spend money on their favorite artists. “Open fandom on commercial radio seems to be waning. NPR is appointment listening. The devotion and engagement level is higher,” Keith Berman of industry tipsheet RAMP (Radio and Music Pros) explained to The Hollywood Reporter.
Though it’s effect can be mostly seen with “yindie rock” (yuppie indie rock), don’t think that the NPR hasn’t helped metal either. Back in November, NPR exclusively streamed black folk metal band Agalloch’s latest release Marrow Of The Spirit. Since its release, the album has been consistently selling well, or at least better than most black folk metal albums. The NPR has also done online streams of other underground metal bands such as Salome. They’ve even shown love for our friends MetalSucks.net, naming two of their posts in the article “The Year In Music: Best Writing About Metal.” Granted, NPR isn’t providing Agalloch the same success as Arcade Fire at the moment, but but Agalloch isn’t about to be played in an Urban Outfitters or Where the Wild Things Are trailer anytime soon. Hopefully, NPR will start to stream more metal bands (underground or not) on their websites over time. Even if it doesn’t get metal bands gold status, you can bet some exposure from NPR would help attract more sales than previously. Just ask Agalloch.